Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: All good points. 
Posted: Fri May 13, 2022 at 04:53:37 pm EDT (Viewed 161 times)
Reply Subj: Re: A Short Response
Posted: Fri May 13, 2022 at 03:34:46 pm EDT (Viewed 173 times)

    I lied. This is a super-long ass response, filled with detailed evidence, but if you want an alternative to the tldr version, scroll down to the very bottom
    For the record, I don’t watch MSNBC any more than I watch Fox News, which is to say when I do, it’s just to get an idea of what stories different media are covering and how they are covering them. I do watch a lot more CNN, but again, mostly to see how stories are being framed. As far as television goes, I get my news mostly from different PBS programs, but I get most of my news period in written form.


        zvelf: Not really. James Carville, who embodies the centrist corporate left of center view, abhors it and is one of the most outspoken against it from the well, relative left. I will admit using “far left” is too vague. Wokeness and cancel culture is more a concern of the academic left, and as such has lots of rules and jargon that many laypeople can’t make sense of from using plural pronouns for non-binaries to the appropriateness of “Latinx”. How much does the academic left overlap with the far left? Well, more than either overlaps with Carville or Bill Maher or Meghan Daum or Lawrence Summers and both groups are to the left of them. (My own position is not that pushing this kind of change is wrong, but that it is not well thought out and certainly executed poorly. I won’t get into the specifics of that here because it’s kind of besides the point and would make an already long post much longer.)

      LGDB: So yeah, I think this is basically confused, but you seem to suggest the reason it's confused yourself: i.e. that the word "far left" doesn't really mean that much. And for that matter neither does the academic left.

    Surely, you can understand the distinction in politics between the far left and the center left. You make it all the time in saying that the Democratic Party is not far enough left and that you are to the left of the party. So how can the term “far left” not mean much? You even make the distinction with Maher.

      LGDB: I also think you're cherry picking a few examples here and there of Carville and Maher. Maher's a fun commentator, but easily to the right of most liberals and progressives in term of economic or traditional political issues.

    Maher being “easily to the right of most liberals” is entirely the point I am making. I admitted that my saying wokeness and cancel culture is being pushed by the far left was a bit vague, but on relative terms, it’s true. Maher, like Carville, is a strong critic of wokeness and cancel culture, and they are coming from the center. If the center is criticizing the culture, then the center is not promulgating it. Those further to the left are.

      LGDB: He's like a lot of people in entertainment: shoots from the hip with a series of various incoherent political intuitions. Maher in some ways is a libertarian that supports Democrats. It's only social issues that Maher has ever really been much of liberal and in that case he hasn't really moved with the party since the 90s. He regularly bitches about taxes and government spending, hardly traditional progressive. And Carville is an electoral hatchet man, as mercenary as they come. He's spent decades championing the "it's the economy stupid" while working for an administration that regularly pushed economic policies that most Americans didn't agree with or benefit from. And Larry Summers? Larry Summers is the guy who during the 2008 market crash encouraged Obama to make sure to bail out Wallstreet without any serious restructuring of the economy or reforms on banking or the financial sector, saying if I remember correctly that all those people in middle America who were going to lose their pensions and be foreclosed upon would "pad the runway" for the failing hedge funds and too big to fail banks. Larry Summers is about as responsible as any single human person for the fact that the various Wallstreet ghouls avoided consequences of any kind for their part in the Great recession, and that their loses would be paid for my the American taxpayers, while folks on Main street were losing their homes and savings. Does he use the word Latinx? I shouldn't think it matters. My point is these are a murderer's row of political hacks and economic charlatans.

    I don’t know how this whole tirade about these people has anything to do with the point I am making, but you later remark upon my condescension toward Trump voters. You drip with condescension toward the Clinton and Obama administrations. Yeah, Summers is basically a Republican-lite guy, but you hold it against him a lot more than you hold similar actions by actual Republicans. In any case, the reason I invoked their names is that they are representative of centrists who don’t push wokeness/cancel culture but are instead against it, whereas it is those to the left of them who do push it, which goes back to my original statement with which you had contention.

      LGDB: But what I will say, is that I generally agree that woke scolds on the on the internet calling everyone racist and transphobic so on and so forth are only alienating people from the Democratic party.  Probably almost as bad as the CNN and MSNBC libs calling everyone that voted for Trump a crazy MAGA racist.  Six in one half a dozen in the other if you ask me.

    It’s way overstating the case that CNN and MSNBC label all Trump voters crazy MAGA racists. They don’t. I don’t even know how you would know this. Did you create a spreadsheet and tabulate what every face on these channels have said about Trump voters? How much MSNBC do you watch?

      LGDB: You're so concerned with how the left has alienated voters, while describing at least half of them in maximalist terms, describing them not that differently than when Clinton called them a basket of deplorables.  I don't agree or advocate for either the zany Portland tik tok warriors OR the venomous types in the MSM who describe the Trump voters the way you seem to.  While I don't think we'll convince most of them, I don't want to guarantee we convince absolutely none of them either.

    I’m not nearly as concerned about alienating Trump supporters as alienating other Democrats, you know, the people whose votes you can actually get but whom you condescend to far more than Republicans. We know they are out there because Clinton only got 66 million votes and Biden got 81 million votes. If we got the extra 15 million turnout every time, the Democrats would almost always win. Your criticisms of Clinton and Obama and Biden seem to be that they are that they are so nearly as bad as Dubya and Trump that the difference is negligible, which I find absurd. Dubya started a war under false pretenses that wasted over $2 trillion, killed over 4,000 American soldiers, killed over 100,000 Iraqis, and created ISIS. Trump utterly mishandled a pandemic and politicized pandemic best practices that led to nearly a million deaths as the Biden administration had to deal with a huge segment of the American public who refused to mask or get vaccinated.

      LGBD: And the truth is I think most of it's to distract people and have them think that the real political division is this country is between conservative and liberals, instead of the real political division which is between the wealthy and everyone else. It makes building a large democratic coalition all the more difficult to form because it encourages people to suspect that their fellow American are actually the "irrational" evil people ruining the country, as opposed to the actual culprits profiting from their misery.

    It seems like you’ve been reading way too much Marx and have this romantic belief that if you just trash Democrats enough, QAnon believers, Tea Partiers, the Proud Boys, and everyone who believes in Trump’s Big Lie will unite and recognize their real enemies: Elon Musk, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Chuck Feeney, Mark Cuban, every big Hollywood movie star, every uber successful pop singer, and that billionaire they really, really love, Donald Trump. I’m being facetious, but lumping all the rich together as who are keeping down the man leads to ludicrous results. At least aim more carefully and I would agree more with you.

      LGBD: And you may not like wokism but you engage in a very similar political distraction from what I can tell: the politics of etiquette and decency. A politics that presupposes that there's some fundamental difference between Trump and the larger Washington consensus. That he's somehow a threat to the latter or that the latter isn't itself every bit as dangerous as that scary orange buffoon.

    I don’t care whether Trump is a threat to Washington. Washington and its culture has been around for 200+ years. Trump, however, is more dangerous than Washington. Trump is a threat to truth and honesty and sanity. Trump breaking norms makes breaking those norms more acceptable, especially to his supporters. That means making up and spreading any lie so long as it helps them. Once one political party lives in an echo chamber of recycled lies, you can’t change their minds. Trying to do so just reinforces their beliefs and convinces them that you are against them. I mean, you honestly can’t see much difference between a Trump and a Mitt Romney or a John McCain, much less between Trump and a Bill Clinton or an Obama? Really? January 6 was too much for even Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and Lindsay Graham in the moment, and those three make Lawrence Summers look like a saint. Of course, they’ve all cowardly caved in on their initial impulses of horror to once again grovel at the feet of Trump, but privately, they recognized the obscenity of January 6. Trump, who was responsible, is the complete opposite and embraces that violence so long as it is done in tribute to him. If Trump was actually smart, his presidency would have caused 10 times as much harm, but he was too stupid to execute effectively.


        zvelf: I think you overestimate the degree to which people are rational and think this through. If people actually appreciated Democrats for what they did, then Clinton’s very prosperous run as president would have led to Gore becoming the next president, not Bush (or if you believe that Bush stole the presidency, at least it wouldn’t have been so close as to come down to 500 or so votes). Bush was disastrous as president between the Iraq War and its lack of WMDs to Hurricane Katrina to his term ending with the start of the Great Recession. Then Obama led a recovery back to prosperity. He passed ACA and gave 20+ million people access to healthcare who did not have it before (mostly through Medicaid expansion). Was there appreciation for Democrats? No. Voters couldn’t be bothered to show up in the midterms and Obama lost Congress. Then Trump got elected, got impeached twice, and mishandled the worst pandemic in a century.

      LGDB: I'm not sure how rational YOU'RE being or how well YOU'RE thinking this through. And I'm not saying that to be disrespectful or to goad you put I find that when people talk about how stupid the masses are they very rarely include themselves in it, which is at best curious.

    There’s a quote from Game of Thrones, “Nothing someone says before the word 'but' really counts.” Although you misspelled “but” here, I think you’re implying more than you think. There’s also George Carlin’s old adage, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” I’ll let others decide which half I am on. I’m sure opinions will vary.

    In any case, I didn’t actually call the masses stupid. I don’t know where you are getting this. Some are, some aren’t. I’m not generalizing to hundreds of millions of people; but I will tell you what is stupid: believing in QAnon and pizzagate, believing in Trump’s Big Lie that failed to pass muster in over 60 court cases, donating money to a literal billionaire to help him out financially with legal fees (even though he’s really just bilking you). So no, not all Trump voters are stupid, but the ones who engaged in the above behaviors are certainly acting stupidly.

      LGDB: What I can say if you know anything about Clinton's presidency outside of the vague belief that the economy was doing well, you'd ask yourself for whom the economy was doing well, because it certainly wasn't the American worker. And it's not to say the conservatives of the era were any better. That's the point, how thoroughly Clinton capitulated to conservative economic theory and to the kinds of institutions that conservatives often represent. Clinton's administration signed Republican free trade deals that predictably lowered wages and made it easier for companies to outsource jobs which among other things undercut union leverage.  Not to mention his various other triangulations like cutting welfare, signing the crime bill, and deregulating Wallstreet of course.  Now you may have personally avoided in the Clinton years the economic fallout of those kinds of policy decisions.  Bully for you.   But the point is many people didn't.

    No doubt, Clinton passed some terrible legislation that made life worse like his crime bill and his welfare bill and Wall Street deregulation. I agree with all that. But NAFTA? I think that’s pretty unclear. There have been numerous studies on its effect and the results are mixed: some but not major U.S. job losses but also lower prices for U.S. consumers. Clinton’s legislative accomplishments are more complicated than you assert though. In another post, you asked me, “What economic policy of the Clinton's do you believe improved the lives of workers?” Clinton passed The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which allows up to 12 weeks of leave from which you can't be fired, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which increased taxes on the rich from 31% to 39.6% while tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the biggest anti-poverty tools in government. It led to the first and only national budget surplus (in 1998) since the 60s. Note “socialist” Bernie Sanders voted for this bill while not a single Republican did. You say the Democrats are slaves to the wealthy, but Clinton raised their taxes by 9%. Also note that a lot of Clinton’s terrible legislation was similar to what Reagan did. Reagan broke the unions, Reagan peddled trickle down economics, Reagan opposed the minimum wage. Again, if your assertion that voters prioritize their vote based on their economic interest is true, why was Reagan so popular? Why were Republicans rewarded with his Vice President getting elected after him?

      LGDB: The workers that were betrayed by the Clinton administration and his brand of business friendly "New Democrat" weren't "fooled" into the thinking that their town factories closed down, and and it wasn't conservative propaganda that made them "imagine" their jobs magically disappeared and reappeared in various exotic locales.  That's why they jumped ship to the Republicans or became disillusioned with the political process completely; not because they were fooled... because their party abandoned them. They developed that opinion based on the actual material conditions of their lives. You can think people are as stupid and you like, and that they ought to know about their best interests (from your vantage point of course), and you could have told them that as their wages remained stagnant despite increased productivity, as housing and education inflated almost exponentially, and as the American dream that their children's lives would be better than their own became little more than nostalgic fantasy, and I'm sure it wouldn't have done a lick of good.  It would probably be as compelling as it is now to them, which is to say not at all. For my part I think it's pretty condescending to think that while the median standards of living slip slowly into the toilet even through Democratic super majorities, the American people who have lost faith in the Dems' ability or willingness to deliver, are somehow irrational. I think the thought is morally obscene as a matter of fact.

    This part of your story though is just fabrication. You have repeatedly said that the working class makes up an “easy majority” of the population. Clinton left office with a 65% approval rating, higher than that of every departing president since FDR. That would be impossible if the working class hated Clinton. And here is a graph of actual earnings adjusted for inflation. It’s about $267 when he entered office in 1993 and about $284 eight years later. That’s a 6.4% increase above inflation. So wages were not stagnant under Clinton. Now, wages overall have been stagnant compared to where they were in 1965 to today, but there were notable changes over the decades. They went way down under Carter, rose slightly then fell sharply under Reagan, was stagnant under Bush I, went up under Clinton, was stagnant again under Bush II, and went up again under Obama. Instead, it looks like you’re the one attributing some false consciousness to people.

      LGDB: And yes I completely agree about how awful the Republicans have been, and how atrocious their policies continue to be, but the paradox here is that you think that the American working class ought to appreciate as a matter of half baked pragmatism how wonderful the Democrats are for having moved... closer to those Republicans you hate so much. And they did this not secretly, but out in the open all the while convincing themselves how bright they were for doing so. There's a reason Clinton is associated with triangulating. Now it looks slimy perhaps, but in the 90s dem apparatchiks prided the realpolitik of it all. The idea being if Dems courted business interests (usually a natural Republican constituency) especially sectors of the burgeoning new Tech economy and innovative  parts of the growing financial sector, then they wouldn't have to worry about fulfilling the demands of the less moneyed political coalitions that were traditionally their province. You know, people like labor unions, the general working class, the bottom  half of the country, because as they say "where else are they gonna go?" This has proven a completely fatal error I'd say, but more on that later.

    But your logic doesn’t make any sense: Voters moved away from Democrats to Republicans because Democrats were becoming more like Republicans. What? If Democrats are becoming more like what you hate, let’s embrace what you hate? Huh?


        zvelf: Politically I agree with the far left more than the center left. Above all though, I am pragmatic, while the far left is too idealistic and seemingly blind to that idealism. I was with Bernie Sanders more than Hillary Clinton, but Bernie lost in the primary. He presented his ideas. Hillary presented hers. She won the primary. I was disappointed, but at that point, the Democrats needed to be fully on board to keep Trump from becoming president. I’m friends with some in the DSA who would not vote for Hillary no matter what. Quite a few on the far left took that position, and if I recall correctly, that included you, although I don’t know if you ultimately stuck by that decision. Trump won by about 70,000 votes across the Midwest. That’s not a lot. It could have easily gone the other way if more people voted instead of refusing to vote for Clinton on principle despite despising Trump. The result has severely damaged the country, not least because the Supreme Court would now have a super majority of liberals instead of conservatives due to Trump’s 3 picks. That Texas abortion law would have been struck down so fast and we wouldn’t even be talking about Roe getting overturned.

      LGDB: I think this is quite the contrary the opposite of pragmatism and the height of ideological thinking. And just look where we're at the Dems whose sole virtue (their ability to win elections) are about to get massacred in the midterms liking losing both the House and the Senate; have no reason to expect they'll keep the White House in 2024; and have wrought a SCOTUS that is 6-3 conservative and is about to overturn Roe V. Wade. These are not what I call "practical results."

    Well, my own pragmatism did not affect Dem strategy whatsoever so I don’t know what you’re talking about in trying to correlate the two. My pragmatism can’t be the height of ideological thinking because there is no ideology behind it other than picking the lesser of two evils. And how can the Democrats be blamed for the Roe SCOTUS decision? The Republicans installed them. Here is yet another instance of you blaming Democrats for what Republicans have done.

      LGDB:  Furthermore, as it happens, there's nothing pragmatic about failing to hold together a popular coalition because you've systematically sided with corporate money and the relative PMC minority.  Or thinking that somehow that Republicans wouldn't find away to appeal (however deceptively) peel off these abandoned constituencies.

    And what I find almost galling is the suggestion that all these failures are somehow the fault of leftists and progressives. The Democratic establishment so far as I can tell have almost total institutional power, while progressives, outside of a dozen (at the most) or so in the House and one in the Senate who might I remind you vote WITH the establishment about 90% of the time, are somehow to blame. This sounds like a formula for evading responsibility to me. This belief that if Democrats are losing it's that they are too progressive I think is almost completely without logic. Most people are not BETWEEN the two parties. Most people are BENEATH the two parties, beneath their attention, their notice and their interest. Most American want ONE of the two parties to help them in ways that are more than symbolic, oblique, or only okay when you compare them to a worse party. You can't feed your family on the "not enough money, but still more than the conservatives were offering." And you still get evicted from your home if you "have almost enough rent and honestly rent would have been higher under Trump."

    Now as for whether or not Bernie people supported Clinton sufficiently, I suggest you check your history. If you do you'll find the inconvenient data that a greater percentage of Bernie supporters voted for Clinton in the 2016 election than did Hillary supporters vote for Obama in the 2008 election.

Okay, but all that means from my pragmatic perspective is that those Hillary supporters are also to blame, not that Bernie supporters are off the hook. In other words, you just engaged in a whataboutism that’s irrelevant to the point I’m making, which is that Democrats need to come together and vote as a block, not engage in Bernie or Bust threats. Anyway, it’s not THE fault of leftists and progressives. It’s a shared failure. My pointing out one segment’s failure doesn’t preclude other segment's failures.

    LGDB: I in fact DID vote for Clinton in the 2016 election. The difference between you and I apparently is that while I voted for Clinton I didn't blame the people who refused to. Call me crazy, but I think that powerful people ought to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions MORE than the powerless. One of the chief objections to Clinton getting the nomination was on her being so damn unelectable. But her supporters didn't want to hear it, low and behold she lost, and then it was everyone else's fault.

Of course it was everyone else’s fault. If someone loses an election, it’s not the fault of the people who voted for that person. It’s the fault of the people who didn’t vote for that person.

    LGDB: And if you want to look no further to the vote she failed to capture, don't look the Bernie supporters, the vast majority of which DID vote for her. Look instead to the industrial Midwest. One of the BEST predictors for what states Clinton would lose were those states that were most seriously affected by free trade agreements like NAFTA. Another classic examples of Democrat policies alienating the voters their policies betrayed, and then being AMAZED that those betrayed weren't as willing to hold their nose and vote for the lesser of the two evils.

Not amazed. Disappointed. And yes, the industrial Midwest voters are even more to blame than Bernie voters. One is not mutually exclusive to the other. And of course, Clinton herself is the most to blame of all. But Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania effectively did a retraction in 2020 and went Biden. They gave Trump a chance and said no thanks.


      zvelf: Democrats try to win over working class voters by talking about job training programs. Republicans actually win them over by telling them falsely that Mexicans are stealing their jobs so they will build a wall to keep them out. You seem to think many Trump voters are looking for some massive status quo change giving them economic justice and that they would have voted for Bernie Sanders had they been given a chance when they actually voted for Trump because they don’t want minorities becoming the majority, they want guns, lots of guns, but most of all, they want to own the libs, because they think liberals condescend to them. That’s where Trump excelled because he would say anything to troll the opposition, regardless that Trump could produce anything whatsoever policy-wise, which he pretty much couldn’t.

    LGDB: To be honest this a totally classist smear job of what most American people are like. You've managed to reverse engineer what you think most of them (which is to say what most of us) must be like based in the kinds of decisions they've been forced to make. And personally, I'd say you make an awful stenographer or empath for your political enemies. Yeah, I think this [job training programs] are really great example of something that is an absolutely paltry excuse for fighting for the interests of workers. "Oh yes let's just teach the 55 year old coal miners to code.  Only 6% of jobs in the economy are STEM but I'm sure business will be raring to hire the just past middle aged blue collar laborers instead of the 22 year old child who has been weened digitally and doesn't have a family to support and doesn't expect medical."   Of all the bald faced lies Clinton ever peddled this has to be the dumbest on its face despite it also being the most widely repeated.  If Democrats want to help workers they can fight to increase wages, fight for better workers conditions, fight to help them unionize, fight to help them receive a greater portion of the ever shrinking percentage of the value they produce.

Apparently you didn’t catch that I was mocking the Democrat proposal of job training programs. I agree that they are idiotic.

    LGDB: Now... and I want to be very clear here... when both parties are offering very little in way of a material gain or benefit, voters will have to make their decisions on other discriminating bases. Namely they'll vote according to the culture war. Saying that most American wouldn't choose economic prosperity over owning the libs is I think profoundly mendacious (unintentionally so, I'd hope), because as it happens they haven't been given that choice. Generally speaking people are well aware that they aren't being given the choice between putting food on their table or reducing the cost of prescriptions or the orange man who loves guns and bibles. They're being given the choice of a polite FU by the party of middle management or an entertaining circus ringleader who kisses their asses and craps on their enemies. Hmmm I wonder who they might chose? Compare the way you've described these people to how Trump might talk about them, and you're surprised they don't want to join up with you!? It's embarrassing to not make this connection. This liberal attitude that "we've given the poors nothing, but I bet they wouldn't even take it if we did, cause they're so racist" again I think is virtually transcendentally out of touch and classist by its open character.

There you go again with the Democrats are so nearly as bad as Republicans that the difference is negligible. I brought up bills that improved life under Clinton. Here are some under Obama. Obama passed the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which saved over 2 million jobs, helped end the Great Recession, and “kicked off the longest period of economic growth and job creation in American history” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2020/02/17/obamas-2009-recovery-act-kicked-off-over-10-years-of-economic-growth/?sh=4261620c68b7). Not a single Republican voted for it. Under Obama, 11,572,000 new jobs were added and unemployment dropped by 4.7%. Real weekly earnings, that is adjusted for inflation, went up 4%. His Affordable Care Act is certainly not better than Medicare for all, but it was the biggest change to health care in over 4 decades. It halved the number of uninsured within 6 years, got rid of pre-existing conditions as a disqualifier for insurance, and covered more than 20 million people who didn’t have insurance before. Roughly half of that was due to Medicaid expansion that covered everyone with income up to 138% of the poverty line or about $17,774 for individuals. Everyone making under that amount got nearly free healthcare if you lived in the right state. Coverage would have been even higher but 12 red states (almost a quarter of the country) refused the Medicaid expansion (https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/status-of-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions-interactive-map/). So yeah, the Democrats have “given the poors nothing” in your words. Nothing. 12 red states actively prevented more poor people from getting health insurance, but are the people voting Republicans out of office based on their economic interests or keeping them in based on culture war issues in these states?

You’re right that Clinton deserves blame for deregulating Wall Street, but then Obama deserves praise for re-regulating it via the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which among other things, protected people from credit card and mortgage abuses and implemented 243 new regulatory rules including the Volcker rule. Republicans, again, did the opposite and repealed part of it under Trump in 2018. But the two parties are nearly as bad according to you. Obama also fixed another Clinton mistake by repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and he passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which raised taxes on the rich again after the Bush tax cuts reduced them. Obama cut taxes for households making less than $250,000 and individuals making less than $200,000 (https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2012/sep/07/barack-obama/barack-obama-said-hes-cut-taxes-middle-class-famil/). Under Obama, we also got the legalization of gay marriage (due to his Supreme Court nominations), a big overhaul of food-safety laws, more stem-cell research, preservation of net neutrality, a 369% increase in wind and solar energy, and a huge land-protection act. You read all this and is your response still that Democrats are “slightly less filthy”?

    LGDB: But this calculus isn't really what most people are doing most of the time. When both parties fail them, and I'd argue further when the primary system is meant to alienate the general public--ask yourself why we only really hear this "vote or die talk" during the general election--most people don't award the slightly less filthy political apparatus. They generally regard both as corrupt and either don't vote at all or they vote sort of arbitrarily, "I assume both are lying and so I'll go with whichever candidate seems more honest."

“Whichever candidate seems more honest?” Surely you are joking. They went with Trump, the transparently least honest candidate of all time! The candidate who lied constantly. If this is the case, the corollary must be you implying that the people who voted for Trump as the most honest candidate were just stupid.

    LGDB: Further, the important premise as far as I'm concerned is WHY the Democrats are only a little better than the Republicans by and large for most people most of the time. The belief that the Democrats make the kind of compromises they do in order to beat the Republicans or to appeal to "moderate voters" whatever the hell that is, is I think fatuous and totally unempirical. The Democrats don't pass on abundantly popular policies like universal health care; the child tax credit; raising the minimum wage; debt forgiveness; lowering prescription drugs; a draw down of foreign entanglements; more school funding, the Pro act; expanded social security and so on because it would hurt them with the voters. That's patently foolish and cuts against everything we know about the electorate. Many if not most Democrats don't adopt those policies because their real constituency, their donors and financial backers don't approve. Because it hurts their bottom line, raises their taxes, lowers the yield of their assets, and creates a labor market they find less than favorable.

This is just wrong. Democrats are trying to do almost every single thing you listed. Clinton and Obama both raised taxes on the rich while Republicans actively tried to stop them while cutting taxes on the rich every time they are in the majority. It’s the Republicans who doubled the estate tax exemption from $5.49 million to $11.18 million under Trump, another huge giveaway to the rich. Debt forgiveness? The Biden administration is in the middle of figuring out how to best implement student loan forgiveness. A draw down of foreign entanglements? Uh, Afghanistan (which didn’t go very well)? But most pointedly, let me remind you that the DEMOCRATIC HOUSE ALREADY passed the Build Back Better Act as pushed by Biden. That would extend the Child Tax Credit and make it permanent, extend the Earned Income Tax Credit even more, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, IMPOSE EVEN HIGHER TAXES on the RICH and large corporations including instituting a global 15% minimum tax, and establish a universal pre-Kindergarten program. But in your eyes, Democrats are purposefully not doing these things because their real constituency, the rich, disapprove. These are all things EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN is blocking. If even two Republican Senators crossed over, the bill would pass. Literally every Democrat but one in the House voted for it. Every Democrat but two in the Senate are ready to vote for it. The Democratic president is ready to sign it. But somehow you believe the Democrats aren't really interested in passing it even while 99% of all Democrats in Congress have committed.


      zvelf: In many red states, having a D next to your name is a kiss of death at the polls. Somehow you think having “socialist” next to your name is better? For these voters, that’s even worse. I was born and raised in Arkansas. I grew up around these people. If I recall correctly, you live in Texas, so you should know better too, but I think you’re in Austin, the bluest patch of Texas. Biden passed a $1 trillion infrastructure and jobs act and was attempting a $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, before compromise brought it down to $2.2 trillion, which is how it passed the House. People forget that it’s half way through. That’s monumental social spending. Where are all the people on the right who want the economic and health benefits in this bill that include lots of the stuff you say people want? Polls show roughly half the country opposes it. So Democrats failing here is not for lack of trying. The voters simply didn’t give them enough of a Congressional majority to overcome the existence of a Manchin and a Sinema.

    LGDB: Actually I'm NOT for socialist branding. And I don't even think Marxist categories are necessary for understanding the political world. I think more than anything, I'm a left populist or just a populist, and fundamentally I think a populist democratic politics is what the people of this country sorely need. And lived in Austin TX and New York for twelve years, but I spent the first 19 in Augusta, Georgia, 5 years in the Army. and I live in Columbia, South Carolina now, and I'll take the Pepsi challenge with your white trash red state bona fides any day of the week.  And while red states might hate words like liberal or socialist or whatever buzz word they've been taught to be threatened or annoyed by, what they DO agree with are progressive policies.  Look no further than how they feel about social security.  Or if you want a strong recent example, at the same time that crimson red state Florida was rejecting supposed liberal Joe Biden they were voting to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  The very kind of economic populist policy that we are assured by centrist Democrats are FAR TOO progressive... and never mind that money they receive from the Chamber of Commerce.

Again, this goes against factual reality. Centrist Democrat Bill Clinton got minimum wage increases to $4.75 in 1996 and $5.15 in 1997. An increase in 2007 was signed by Bush, but it was totally pushed and passed by Democrats. Every Democrat voted for it in the House while 116 Republicans voted against it. That Florida minimum wage got on the ballot because of John Morgan, who is not a politician but is a Democrat who supported Biden. He’s also a millionaire. Republicans are the ones, by and large, opposed to minimum wage increases. On the stump, Trump opposed minimum wage increases. Trump still got most of the working class votes. “Look no further than how they feel about social security.” Yes, let’s look. Oh, Democrat John Larson of Connecticut has a bill, Social Security 2100, that would expand benefits for all 65 million recipients. (https://larson.house.gov/issues/social-security-2100-sacred-trust
) He has 200 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats. It may not pass because it has to get past the filibuster in the Senate, but it won’t be because Democrats aren’t trying to pass it.

    LGDB: Now I followed VERY closely the two bills and how the Biden administration more or less allowed that second Build Back Better bill to fail by delinking it from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I watched as Biden failed to pressure anyone to overturn the filibuster, failed to pressure Manchin or Sinema in any serious way to vote for it, and for some mysterious reason, decided to bow to the non-binding recommendation of the Senate parliamentarian. I would encourage YOU to look into how that bill developed and then basically was allowed die. And when you talk about those polls that 50% people didn't support it, that really depend on which polls you mean. When voters were asked about the component parts of the bill, a majority of voters approve of the various spending proposals. It's when people were just given a blanket figure with very little explanation as to what was in the bill that they disapproved.

So were you there for Biden’s private negotiations with Manchin and Sinema that were not attended by any reporters? The Democrats are facing a huge uphill battle in the midterms, and you think they purposely let one of their two biggest signature bills die? That’s just speculative confirmation bias at work. Neither you nor I know how much pressure Biden put on Manchin or Sinema, but I do know that Democrats are limited in the pressure that they can deliver. If either Manchin or Sinema switch parties, which they can easily do given both represent red states, the Senate instantly goes back to Republican hands with McConnell becoming majority leader again. That doesn’t just sink Build Back Better, but everything for the rest of the year including most judicial appointments. Even now, the Senate is looking for a way to compromise with Manchin and Sinema to still pass Build Back Better. If Biden was being disingenuous over the bill, he never would have proposed an initial $3.5 trillion price tag. The Democrats aimed for the biggest, sweeping social spending bill since the Great Society in 1964. The result? Biden’s approval ratings are now at Trump levels. There’s no way to reconcile that with your belief that people really, desperately want big material social change if only one party would offer it to them. Where are all the working class people in West Virginia and Arizona rallying to change their senator’s vote that you say they desperately want?

    LGDB: And YES, you're right the voters didn't elect enough Democrats. But this glosses over the way in which DCCC funding during those congressional primaries helped to ensure that Republicans would face milquetoast, unpopular corporate Dem competition. And it also fails to recognize that many of the voters who didn't show up for the libs might not have because many of them lived through Obama's feckless super majority and have over decades lost faith in the "party of the people's" ability or inclination to represent their interests. You talk about voters not showing up the Democrats as if it's completely divorced from the 50 year history of Democrats slowly selling them out for Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Finance since the Carter administration. Corruption by a thousands paper cuts eventually catches up to you at the ballot box.

I’ve presented evidence that this sell out is not as pervasive as you present it, but for the sake of argument, let’s say you are accurate. So your theory is that the electorate who resents selling out to Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Finance chooses to switch to the party who blatantly represents Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Finance? You accuse me of labeling people as stupid when your entire premise rests on their being stupid. That’s your idealism talking. Democrats have done a lot more for the poor than Republicans, but because it’s not enough, hey, that’s why people embrace Republicans whose policies actively make the poor poorer and the rich richer. The unmistakable Republican motto for decades has been that government is bad and the less government does for you, the better.

    LGDB: Oh this is trivially easy to field. I don't think people voted for Trump because he did MORE for them. I think when neither party substantially delivers for the working people (which is to say most people), those people will vote according to nonmaterial criteria, i.e. for the culture war. And the culture war is ostensibly by design something that divides the country down the middle. Ultimately Trump voters aren't really expecting him to deliver materially for them. Or at least when he fails to as he necessarily does, they don't so much mind, because he's performing his more pointed psychical function. Many of them believe that they're losing a more quasi-spiritual kind of battle taking place at the level of civilization and Trump is the guy representing them in that.  Ideological lemonade out of material lemons if you like.

You revealed why Trump voters vote the way they do, but mistake how powerful that is: the “quasi-spiritual kind of battle taking place at the level of civilization.” That’s exactly right. The GOP, Fox News, and far-right radio and websites have made them believe that the left is made up of God-hating, baby killing, election-stealing, condescending, virtue signaling social justice warriors who are out to replace white people with brown immigrants and destroy heterosexual norms. If your average South Carolinian really, truly believed that, then would they trade a material improvement in their life to keep such people in power? No. You can appeal to them all you want with socialist promises, but you’re not getting the vote of someone who believes the above.

    LGDB: No, Obama and Clinton in the broadest terms helped do things like balance budgets, increased the value of stock returns, and raise the countries GDP... metrics which may correspond to vacuous attaboys lobbed by the corporate media and touting a "strong economy" but don't often correlate to the financial solvency or economic security of the median home. While "economic indicators" may have been generally positive in corporate media (because their target audience was doing well)during the Clinton or Obama years, and Democrats usually do oversee slightly more stable economies, all the while wages stagnated, prices for non-negotiable expenses like healthcare, housing, food, and education steadily climbed. And that's in Republican administrations as well, because in the main their economic policies are basically the same neoliberal framework of globalized "free markets," domestic austerity, privatizing the commons, and growing inequality.

Again, you have repeatedly stated that the working class makes up the majority of people. One can’t improve the economy in the broadest terms but fail to help “most people.” I have already detailed how Democrats have helped people. Have they hurt people with bad legislation as well? Definitely. But the People haven’t resented the overall job that Clinton and Obama did. Bush and Trump both left office with a final approval rating of 34% by Gallup’s polling. Again, Clinton left office with a final approval rating of 65% and Obama 59%. Again, let me emphasize, Clinton left office as THE most popular president in the past 70 years and this is after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Having said all that and despite what good Democrats have done, I personally think the performance of Democrats are a net negative in the past 30 years, but still nowhere nearly as bad as Republicans. I'm big on shades of gray. Democrats do cater to big business and special interests, just not to the same degree as the GOP. They do enter foreign engagements that wind up with hundreds or thousands of foreigners killed over time. To put it simply, Democrats are the lesser of two evils. But when you can’t vote for a party that will do net good, it’s still vitally important to stop a far worse net bad.

The U.S. government is highly dysfunctional and no longer works. What will solve our current situation? The dying off of the Baby Boom generation perhaps. Biden won every age group except for 65 and over, and younger people seem less politically divided than older people:


But even if the two parties were exactly equally bad except on Supreme Court nominations, then I'd say one should still easily vote Democrat for that sole reason. The Supreme Court is THAT important. It shouldn’t be, by which I mean 9 unelected people should not have so much power, but they do. In a time when Congress has a hard time passing much major legislation because of the filibuster and because the country is so divided, only the Supreme Court can drastically alter American life from gay marriage to overturning portions of the Civil Rights Act. However awful Hillary Clinton may have been (and she still would have been far better than Trump), had she won, liberals would now outnumber conservatives 6-3 on the court. Scalia, Kennedy, and RBG would have all been replaced by Clinton, eventually allowing an overturn of the stupidity of Citizens United and the allowance of gerrymandering and now the overturning of Roe. This is a court we would have had for another 20 years, probably more since Thomas and Alito will most likely be the next two to vacate.

I have abandoned a lot of my belief in the U.S. government as a tool for helping people. As it exists, presidential elections are now always an act of triage, of keeping things from getting worse as opposed to making things much better. Between gerrymandering that allows politicians to pick their voters instead of the other way around and Citizens United allowing unlimited money to flow into Super PACs (both of which would have been stopped by the Supreme Court had Gore won and replaced Roberts), the system is broken. The more time passes, the more people figure out that a lot of government norms are just unwritten rules and that they don't actually have to obey them. Everyone becomes more Machiavellian as they try to attain power any way they can. Delay a Supreme Court nomination for most of a year and pay no price for it. Just make up enough lies and people will believe you. The only way out of this is changing the system from the bottom up and I commend everyone trying to do this. It won't be changed from the top down by electing a Bernie Sanders, all of whose legislation would be blocked in the Senate. In the meantime, play triage and get your majority on the Supreme Court. It's a lot easier to get 5 out of 9 than 227 out of 453 or 51 out of 100 or really 60 out of 100.


The tldr version of my points are:

The center left is not responsible for pushing cancel culture as much as those further left. My evidence is the center left folks who are actively critical of it.

The left needs to unite before trying to peel off the right. Wokeness and cancel culture impedes that.

LGDB only begrudgingly admits to any positive Democrat achievement despite multiple expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving 20 million more people health insurance, passing minimum wage increases, increasing family leave, re-regulating Wall Street, bringing America out of the Great Recession, a 6% real wage increase under Clinton and a 4% real wage increase under Obama, among many other things I detail above.

There are clear differences between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have improved the lives of the poor and working class more than Republicans have. That has not stopped much of the working class to vote Republican because of culture war issues. My evidence: Republicans under Reagan were rewarded. Democrats under Clinton were not. Democrats under Obama were not.

Democrats just passed a $1 trillion infrastructure and jobs act and are half way through passing  the biggest, most sweeping social spending bill in several generations with all the things LGDB says Democrats don’t want to pass despite 99% of Democrats having already committed to passing it. Against LGDB’s assertion that Democrats would win votes with such a stance materially helping the working class, the Democrats will likely lose Congress in the fall.

The GOP, Fox News, and far-right radio and websites have made their consumers believe that the left is made up of God-hating, baby killing, election-stealing, condescending, virtue signaling social justice warriors who are out to replace white people with brown immigrants and destroy heterosexual norms. That is how avid Trump supporters vote, not based on their being offered a New Deal.

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